Election Commission satisfied with ‘smooth’ advance voting

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BANGKOK, June 26 – Thailand’s Election Commission (EC) is satisfied with Sunday’s overall advance voting nationwide, describing it as smooth, with only two cases destroyed ballots have been reported, said chairman Apichart Sukhagganond.

After voting ended at 3pm, ballots for off-constituency voting were delivered to the provinces by Thailand Post,

while the EC chairman –who observed the transportation– expressed his satisfaction, saying the entire process was transparent and occurred under close watch of police officers and poll agency staff members at each polling station.

Representatives from political parties and the media were able to observe the entire operation, he said.

He said two cases of ballot-tearing, violating the election law, were reported and he would receive the full report on Monday. In at least one of the cases, it appears there was a simple confusion regarding what to do with a mistakenly marked ballot.

In the capital, Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA)’s permanent secretary Charoenrat Chutikarn said minor obstacles occurred in Ratchathewi district when the names of some 100 people were not found registered in the advance voting system. The voters were later permitted to cast their ballots after their documents were verified.

In Din Daeng district, an MP candidate and 30 followers wanted to monitor the voting there, but were forbidden by officers, which resulted in a complaint made to police by the candidate. In Bangna, an investigation is under way when a voter tore up his ballot and wanted a new one due to a misunderstanding in voting procedures.

Mr Charoenrat said the problems are to be learned from for further improvement in voting at the July 3 general election.

In other areas, Election Commission (EC) secretary-general Suthipol Thaweechaikarn said the advance voting atmosphere in the nearby province of Pathumthani was lively, while in Samut Prakan province some 10 voters faced problems when their names were found unregistered in the system.

Election Commissioner Sodsri Sattayatham monitoring the advance voting situation in the Northeast said an incident of vote buying was reported in Ubon Ratchathani province. The local EC office will have more findings on the matter and forward it to the central office to consider the possible issuance of yellow and red cards.

EC chairman Apichart had earlier said he was concerned over vote buying ahead of July 3 poll. Speaking to reporters after casting his ballot at Bangkok’s Bang Sue district, he said the police and poll agency staff are now working closely in the field to prevent any poll-related irregularities and violence.

“Candidates must comply with the law. The yellow and red cards could not only be issued on the polling date but also up to 30 days after the July 3 polling date when the EC would certify the official election results,” Mr Apichart said.

According to election laws, a candidate issued with a red card will be disqualified in a by-elections, while a candidate with a yellow card can still contest in by-elections.

Regarding a United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) plan to set up a working team to monitor any possible illegal acts during the advance voting, the EC chairman said public participation was welcomed in the matter, as it would benefit all parties concerned. (MCOT online news)